5:40 am - Sunday November 8, 2015

Alone review: What horror? Bipasha Basu brings you the best comedy of the year

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Sanjana (Bipasha Basu) is hot and unemployed – the first is a fact, the latter an assumption given how frequently she irons her hair in a day so that her hair remains poker straight and silky even when she wakes up in the middle of the night to fetch water. She has perennially red cheekbones and is married. A few minutes into Alone, Sanjana’s husband Kabir (Karan Singh Grover) has sung her a song, fed her a cake in colours matching her white dress and red lips and we realise why Sanjana’s standard expression is so, well, constipated. The woman misses her husband, who is obviously working hard to pay for rent, cake et al. A potentially relationship-changing conversation between the couple is cut short when a phone call informs them that Sanjana’s mother has had a bimaari that has left her speechless and paralysed neck down.
The couple hurry to Sanjana’s hometown in Kerala’s backwaters. It’s at this point that the film decides to share that Sanjana had a conjoined twin named Anjana who has died. Anjana was a true match to Sanjana, saying things like ‘hum kabhi juda nahi honge’ as a ten-year-old. The two were nearly on the track of snatching the title of creepiest kids ever from the wingwoman-cum-daughter in Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The girls listened to a musical box which plays a tune fit for a Ram Gopal Verma film, drew the infinity sign in sand like lovestruck teens and so on. When teenaged Sanjana developed a crush for Kabir, now her husband and back then a chubby boy who saves the twins from bullies in school, things start souring. Anjana too has a crush on Kabir. However, since Anjana wears specs and has a more visible upper lip hair growth, chubby Kabir chooses Sanjana. Soon after, he runs off to London for higher education.Meanwhile, the twins grow up to become Bipasha Basus and herein lies the confusion. Anjana, can’t fathom why Kabir would choose Sanjana with Bipasha’s abs and legs, over her, also with Bipasha’s abs and legs. We understand her confusion. It’s inexplicable. Sanjana, however, is decided to undergo a life threatening surgery to be with Kabir. Now if you are flummoxed as to why any woman would go under the knife for Karan Singh Grover, gather all your strength to survive the film’s climax. The muscles on a man’s abdomen haven’t been paid a better tribute before this.
So Kabir is the reason the two sisters go under the knife and post-separation, Anjana dies. Sanjana goes on to pursue a sex life with a man with no hair on his body and bulging veins and scorpion tattoos painted on his meatloaf arms.
In the tradition of Indian ghosts who have traditionally been thoroughbred socialists, choosing the taikhana over the haveli, Anjana’s ghost too picks the outhouse adjoining the pretty family home. Maybe because it gets boring in the backwaters, Spooky Anjana starts plotting an elaborate plan for revenge.
Number one: Show ghost face to Mum and knock her out.
Number two: Get sister to come home, with Kabir in tow. When they’re here, possess sister’s body because hey, what could be easier? They have the same abs and legs.
We’re almost tempted to say, neatly done. Especially since Kabir appears to like the possessed Sanjana more, judging by his flared nostrils, bulging veins, and dilated pupils. And why shouldn’t he? The possessed Sanjana treats him the way a good Bengali treats a nice, fat piece of hilsa slathered in mustard sauce. Okay, not really; we actually chew the bones with much more grace than possessed Sanjana chews Kabir’s mouth. Maybe Anjana was just trying to kick a smoking habit and mistook Kabir’s face for nicotine gum. It’s probably difficult to tell such things apart in the afterlife.
Then, like in all good Indian ghost films, there’s a bai who looks sad, scared and suspicious. No, it’s not because of the liquor ban in Kerala. She knows Anjana’s floating around. A puja is done and sure enough, the ghostly Anjana reveals her face. Since it’s India, she looks very white. The rest of Alone is about convincing ghostly Anjana to mind her own business and party with her own kind.
Director Bhushan Patel has put in everything we associate with Indian horror films in this movie. Lights flicker and go out, doors creak pointlessly, swings swing by themselves; a jobless professor shows up to help fight the ghost; days end faster than night; defective fans help ghosts announce their presence.
The two things missing: fear and the ghost. The ghost in this ghost film could make Rahul Gandhi proud: she makes fewer appearances than Gandhi did in Lok Sabha. This is probably because Basu, the high priestess of “horrex”, needs to be in baby doll negligees and lace shorts and Bollywood ghosts are still a little adarsh bharatiya deep inside and aren’t comfortable in such progressive styling. Net result: Alone could be the best comic film Bollywood churns out this year.

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